πŸ“¬ Quit that open browser: let it update and become safer
5 min read

πŸ“¬ Quit that open browser: let it update and become safer

Browsers are much better than they used to be. And they're very safe to use. But that depends on two big things, only one of which we'll talk about now.
Screenshot of Firefox's often-ignored reminder to restart the browser.
Screenshot of Firefox's often-ignored reminder to restart the browser. All browsers need to be quit for updates to happen.

Browsers these days

I'm often surprised by how versatile my browser is. I'm old enough to remember when browsers were just for "browsing". If you remember too-happy 30+ birthday. You'd plug in a URL, and then start down the rabbit hole from one website to another, and before you knew it, you're reading the Wikipedia page about rope.

Rope - Wikipedia

But browsers are so much more now! They seem to do basically anything we want them to do. The browser is the Swiss Army Knife of the digital space. Actually, it's better! Because no ordinary person uses the Swiss Army Knife for anything at all.

Icon of browser displaying a heart, in brand blue.

Why we care about browsers

We here at Majorcord care a lot about browsers. We'll be creating a whole series of resources for you to get the most safety and productivity out of your browser. We too rely on our browsers every day. We want to make sure our browser is fit for purpose.

Because you could use an app on your desktop for, let's say, a word processor. Or you might write in a browser-based word processor like Google Docs, Microsoft Word (yes, there's a web version), or Collabora Online.

Apply this substitution to everything from software used by legal professionals to those used by health and wellness providers, and you've got one heck of a digital Swiss Army Knife.

And, maybe because they're relied on so much, browsers are much better than they used to be. For one thing, we're long past the Internet Explorer days and Microsoft's browser dominance. We're now in the age of Chrome and Google's browser dominance! In all seriousness, what works on one browser, tends to work on another browser nearly as well. Older browsers didn't have it this good, and you can thank web standards groups for that.

Browsers are also really safe to use. Thankfully! Because we send all sorts of information through browsers. Yes, we use it for trivial things like sending cat snaps, memes, and helping each other find vaccines (https://twitter.com/VaxHuntersCan).

But we also use browsers to get paid, then buy stuff with real money, and video call with our doctor to share our suspicions about the source of that persistent rash.
Icon of a bunch of grapes.

Updated browsers are low-hanging safety wins

Yes, browsers are very safe to use. But that depends on two big things, only one of which we'll talk about now. First, that your browser is trustworthy. We'll save this for another post.

Second, it matters that your browser is updated. This is worth dealing with now.

Browsers are much easier to update than they used to be. All browsers on desktop download updates to themselves automatically, by default. (Check with your IT administrator, if you have one, in case they've changed the default behaviour of your browser. If so, follow their recommendations.)

But these updates are only installed when your browser is shut down.

So if you're the sort of person who keeps their browser running for days (you've got me 😳) then quit the browser at least once a week. When you next use your browser, it will be safer against the latest threats. I personally choose Friday or Saturday to do this.

Quitting the browser is like a signal to my brain that the week is done! And how good does it feel to dump all those tabs?!

For example, updates to Chrome in April 2021 (Sources: 1) included protection against new vulnerabilities (Glossary: vulnerability). These vulnerabilities would've allowed threat actors (Glossary: threat actor) to "execute arbitrary code" (read: do anything they want without you knowing) on your desktop machine.

After I quit the browser, only then can the browser software install, all by itself, the updates it has pre-downloaded to save time.
Icon if gift releasing sparkles as it's opened.

(Bonus!) Productivity benefits

Updates to browsers don't just include safety fixes. The folks who work on these important tools also improve the browsers' performance. Which means that updated browsers are often faster or need less resources to do the same work.

These kinds of performance improvements can be especially helpful if you're using a less-than-new desktop machine to be productive.

Updating your browser is like buying an LED lamp instead of a filament bulb-without having to do much, you get better light in your kitchen, a lower electricity bill, and you reduce your carbon impact!

Well, updating your browser doesn't do quite as much, but at least it doesn't cost you $1.30 and the Skytrain ride to Ikea Coquitlam.

Icon of classic sneaker, walking mid-step.

I'm convinced, what's the next step?

So, is it your Friday? Whether you saved our post to read at the end of your week or you just want to start building a good habit now-

Quit your browser and let it recharge too!

That's often all there is to keeping your browser, i.e. your internet life, safe and snappy.

Like with updating browsers, we can sometimes improve both productivity and safety at the same time. Yes, we can have our cake and eat it too. We recommend exploring other ways to transform your Browser Layer.

Dog with heart-shaped nose in a screen, AKA the Majorcord logo.

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